Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Defense, criticism of unions in US bishops’ Labor Day statement

Catholic World News - August 25, 2011

In its annual Labor Day statement, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops rued “new efforts to restrict collective bargaining rights” but noted that “some unions in some places have taken public positions that the Church cannot support.”

Written by Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, the statement examines the “human costs and moral challenges of a broken economy” and notes that “one of the most disturbing aspects of current public discussion is how little focus there is on massive unemployment and what to do to get people back to work.” Drawing on papal social encyclicals, the statement strongly affirms workers’ rights to form unions.

Yet the statement makes clear that the Church does not endorse “every tactic of unions or every outcome of collective bargaining.” Bishop Blaire writes:

Our Church continues to teach that unions remain an effective instrument to protect the dignity of work and the rights of workers … This does not mean every outcome of bargaining is responsible or that all actions of particular unions--or for that matter employers--merit support. Unions, like other human institutions, can be misused or can abuse their role. The Church has urged leaders of the labor movement to avoid the temptations of excessive partisanship and the pursuit of only narrow interests. Workers and their unions, as well as employers and their businesses, all have responsibility to seek the common good, not just their own economic, political, or institutional interests.

The teaching that workers have the right to choose freely to form and belong to unions and other associations without interference or intimidation is strong and consistent. At the same time, some unions in some places have taken public positions that the Church cannot support, which many union members may not support, and which have little to do with work or workers’ rights. Leaders of the Church and the labor movement cannot avoid these differences, but should address them in principled, respectful and candid dialogue. This should not keep us from working on our own and together to advance common priorities of protecting worker rights, economic and social justice, overcoming poverty, and creating economic opportunity for all.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our August expenses ($14,930 to go):
$35,000.00 $20,069.98
43% 57%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Blessed Book of Beasts 18 hours ago
Weekend reading August 29
Frustrating the Moral Law August 29
Weep for slaughtered Christians, not for dialogue with Islam August 29
An Appointment that Francis Should Withdraw August 28

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
‘A real via crucis’: Pope Francis, patriarch plead on behalf of Iraq’s Christians CWN - August 8
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians in flight as Islamic State advances CWN - August 8